One day last fall I came across a flurry of confetti, brass bands, sweets and elderly Italians – it was the feast of Saint Cosmas and Damian.
Born in Cilicia (now known as Arabia) in the third century, Cosmas and Damian were the first children born in a family of seven boys. The twins studied medicine and are credited for being the first to attempt a limb transplant on a human being. They devoted themselves to the rich and poor alike, accepting no payment for their medical services, thus earning their title, “The Silver-less Ones”. These miraculous patrons of medicine were accused of being Christians by two fellow doctors and arrested by Lisia, the governor of the city of Aega. They were tried in a court of Ceasar’s and sentenced to death by torture.
The Saint Cosmas and Damien Society of Somerville-Cambridge MA (my former neighbors) organizes an annual celebration honoring the twins. In 1988, at the request of the Smithsonian Institution, members of the Society traveled to Washington DC to re-enact their feast. A really nice video of the event is here.